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Bike helmet air bags may reduce bicycling injuries

By Ryan Maass
Bike helmet air bags may reduce bicycling injuries
Stanford bioengineers say bike helmets with air bags can reduce bicycling-related brain injuries by five or six times. Photo by Stanford University.

STANFORD, Calif., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Stanford bioengineers say bike helmets equipped with air bags can significantly reduce brain injuries following a recently completed study.

In a paper published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, author David Camarillo notes bicycling is the leading cause of sports-related concussions and brain injuries in the United States. In an effort to curb the trend, Camarillo tested a helmet equipped with a soft pocket worn around the neck.

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"We conducted drop tests, which are typical federal tests to assess bicycle helmets, and we found that air bag helmets, with the right initial pressure, can reduce head accelerations five to six times compared to a traditional bicycle helmet," postdoctoral scholar Mehmet Kurt explained in a press release.

A dummy was dropped from various heights and angles while wearing different helmets, including one equipped with an air bag. Researchers credit the air bag helmet's larger size for its success during the study. The larger size also allows the helmet to be softer than foam helmets currently on the market.

"As our paper suggests, although air bag helmets have the potential to reduce the acceleration levels that you experience during a bicycle accident, it also suggests that the initial pressure that your air bag helmet has is very critical in reducing these acceleration levels," Kurt added.

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